Legislator scores government panic-mongering on North Korea rocket launch


A legislator has strongly criticized the national government’s disaster management agencies for sowing unwarranted fear and panic among the public as North Korea prepares to launch a satellite into orbit this month.


ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio Tinio scored an advisory issued by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) entitled “NDRRMC Update: Suspected DPRK Long-Range Ballistic Missile Test, ca [sic] April 12-16, 2012.” The document was signed by Department of National Defense Undersecretary Benito T. Ramos, Executive Director of the NDRRMC and Administrator of the Office of Civil Defense.


The government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has announced that it will launch an earth observation satellite known as “Kwangmyongson 3” using an Unha-3 rocket between April 12 and 16. President Benigno Aquino III, echoing concerns raised by the United States, has expressed alarm at the planned launch, saying it is a disguised ballistic missile test.


“The NDRRMC report is riddled with politically-charged rhetoric, irresponsible generalizations, and absurd recommendations that grossly exaggerate any danger posed by the North Korean rocket,” said Tinio. “They are spreading misinformation and sowing fear among the public. It’s outrageous and unacceptable.”


“The North Koreans are launching a satellite on that rocket, not a nuclear warhead. Yet Usec. Ramos even refers to it as an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile or ICBM, evoking the doomsday weapon of the Cold War. Such exaggerated language is totally inappropriate coming from a bureaucrat in charge of ensuring public order and safety. Leave the rhetoric to the diplomats and politicians.”


Tinio condemned the NDRRMC for endorsing a “STAY INDOORS” policy put forward by the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), whereby “residents of Regions 1, 2, 3 4A, 4B, NCR and 5” are urged to stay indoors “during the 12-16 April 2012 period, particularly between 0600H to 1200H.” “This is an utterly absurd and self-contradictory recommendation. The PNRI Director Alumanda de la Rosa clearly stated that the rocket will not carry a nuclear warhead and that no radioactive material will be carried on board, so why ask the whole population of Luzon to stay indoors? It’s totally out of proportion to the danger posed by the rocket debris, which is expected to fall in Philippine waters some 200 kilometers east of Luzon. Why is this government asking nearly 50 percent of the population to cower under their roofs when the splashdown will take place far from Philippine soil?”


“Is this report just the product of sheer incompetence? Or is the panic-mongering part of a calculated effort on the part of the Aquino administration to generate public support for increased US troop presence and more intervention in the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific region?” asked Tinio. “After all, President Aquino has been the most vocal in echoing US foreign policy on North Korea in this part of the world.”


The legislator challenged Malacañang to review the NDRRMC’s report and take responsibility for providing the public with an objective assessment of the situation and coming up with sensible recommendations. #